KCS Land Acknowledgement – Grade 3 Students Share What They Know

At the beginning of this school year, grade 3 students embarked on a new learning journey. With an increased focus on the experiences of Indigenous communities in Canada’s history, our students gained a better understanding of what it means to apologize, what reconciliation means, and how we can help to make things right with Indigenous people.

The question posed to the grade 3 students was, “Why should our government be apologizing to Indigenous people?” The enthusiasm with which the grade 3 students approached this topic and the depth of questions asked along the way were simply astounding. Many adults continue to grapple with this important question. Some might wonder how eight- and nine-year-old children could possibly begin to understand these complicated issues. Well, not only did the grade 3 students learn more than we could have imagined, they also showed incredible initiative and leadership in doing their part to help Make the World Better.

After working with this year’s artist in residence – Lindy Kinoshameg from Wiikwemkoong Unceded First Nation – to develop and write a Land Acknowledgement, our students then considered how they might inform the rest of KCS about what a Land Acknowledgement is and why it is so important. Some students decided to share what they had learned by making posters to hang in all of the classrooms. Other students took on the job of creating a presentation to share with each class at KCS. They wanted to give all students some background knowledge before the Land Acknowledgement was introduced to the school. At Lindy’s final assembly at KCS, a small group of students excitedly shared the Land Acknowledgement with the entire community.

KCS teachers and students were impressed by what the grade 3 students were able to do. During the class presentations, our students received many compliments about their strong speaking skills and depth of knowledge. The grade 7s and 8s were especially impressed by the vocabulary used during these presentations. After all, ‘assimilation’ and ‘reconciliation’ are words studied in intermediate history classes!

The grade 3 students will remember all that they have learned through this experience. By letting the students drive their own learning, and by supporting them in their efforts to Lead to Make a Difference and Make the World Better, we were all reminded of the power of Project Based Learning.

So, if you have a problem to solve, try getting a young person involved in finding a solution. You will be amazed by the passion, persistence, and determination they will show when faced with a real-life challenge.

No Place Better Than Kindergarten

Kindergarten. When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I teach Kindergarten, I get a range of interesting reactions. Many people respond with a look of fear or dread on their faces and incredulity at the idea of spending one’s days with a room full of 5-year-olds. Others speculate about how much fun it must be to spend one’s days in Kindergarten, perhaps reminiscing about their own fun-filled Kindergarten years. Having spent the last school year as my first year teaching Senior Kindergarten after teaching a variety of other grades for 16 years, I can assure you there is no place I would rather be.

What is life like in Kindergarten?  Well, there is no shortage of energy; that is for sure. It oozes out of their little bodies and minds every minute of every day. Their curiosity knows no limits, and their endless enthusiasm is extremely contagious. I have to say that it is truly inspiring to see the world through the eyes of a group of 5-year-olds. They explore and wonder and try to figure out the answers to their multitude of questions. Their imaginations take them beyond the limits they may come to know later in life. Wooden blocks become underwater sea castles, roads, storefronts, or forts. Little bits of paper become “dudes” that travel around the classroom in the hands of their creators. A few sticks, some paper, and a whole lot of tape are magically transformed into a kite or a flying machine of their own invention. When Kindergarten kids find something they want to do, they approach it with determination, creativity, and persistence. They are not afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work the first time, they make adjustments and try again. Taking responsible risks happens naturally every day, without a second thought. The way Kindergarten kids embrace learning creates a magical environment where anything is possible.

In so many ways, the kind of learning that happens in Kindergarten should be used as a model for older grades. At KCS, many things happen that try to preserve that spirit of learning for the love of it. While there may not be the same flexibility in terms of subject matter, the more we can let kids hang onto learning for the love of it and in ways about which they are passionate, the longer we can let the magic continue. Because why shouldn’t all students have the opportunity to say, as did one of my students to a classmate last year, “My face hurts from smiling so much!” That sums up the world of Kindergarten.

Kerrie Robins
Senior Kindergarten Teacher
Kingsway College School